By Lisa Nielsen
Schools need to focus on the things students can do with the technology instead of on the technology itself. Unfortunately, this cannot be a reality at many schools that look pretty much like they did in the past century. This is not due to a school’s lack of vision. Technology integration seems like an unattainable goal when there are scarce resources and many obstacles to success. Every student needs access to a device and to connectivity. This is a constant frustration for innovative educators who know the reality: Our students need to be digitally literate to succeed in their digital world.
Access to technology and the Internet should no longer be regarded as a privilege. All students are entitled to expect technology to be as accessible as the paper and pen tools of the past.
Intel-powered Chromebooks remove the traditional roadblocks schools have struggled with and pave the way for the teaching and the learning that our students deserve. Here are some ways they do that.
1. Roadblock: Prohibitive device cost
In the past, student device costs were prohibitive, requiring an investment many school districts just could not afford. Chromebooks start at about $200 per device and are built to last for at least three years. That means the cost per student is about $65 per year. Not only do they get a computer but this is less expensive than the traditional supplies students will no longer need each year, such as pencils, paper, encyclopedias, reading material, calculators, dictionaries, notebooks, rulers, and more.
2. Roadblock: Power management
Power management is a huge issue in schools. Getting devices in and out of carts, running wires across the floor, finding the right time to charge—all are issues. With Intel-powered Chromebooks, the battery lasts approximately 8.5 hours and turns off when not in use, even if students forget. There is never a problem ensuring that the device is powered all day long.
3. Roadblock: Loss of instructional time as devices boot up
Waiting for devices to load wastes precious instructional time. My regular laptop takes five or more minutes to start up. Not the Chromebook. Students can enter class and get to work enjoying “instant on.” You open it, it is on. You close it, it is off. You forget to close it, it shuts the power down for you.
4. Roadblock: Loss of instructional time due to equipment issues
If a device is lost or broken, no worries. Schools can provide a replacement device that is up, running, and ready to go, fully loaded with the student’s customized profile, and documents still living in the Cloud. When the device is found or fixed, it can seamlessly be placed back into the inventory.
5. Roadblock: Slow devices
The Intel-powered Chromebooks are fast! I was able to multi-task with my usual multiple windows with multiple tabs open, running videos, rich presentations, and more.
6. Roadblock: Getting work to the teacher
With traditional devices, students had their work on the devices, but getting that work to the teacher could prove very difficult. Does the teacher have everyone e-mail their work? What if the students don’t have access to e-mail? Does she pull work by putting it on a thumb-drive she passes around? With Chromebooks, this is not a problem. Set up shared Google folders, and your students can share the work right there, with the teacher having instant access.
7. Roadblock: Getting work printed
Printing is an issue at schools. Not only is toner and paper to print student work extremely expensive, but it is also bad for the environment. With Chromebooks, the issue disappears. Work is not physically handed in. It is placed in folders or published on blogs or video sites. The result is a huge savings for the school and a greener environment.
8. Roadblock: Imaging devices
Imaging devices can be a nightmare for schools, holding up delivery for months and then requiring devices to be pulled from the classroom for reimaging. This is a thing of the past. Students log on with their Google ID, and their image is ready and waiting for them, with all the necessary software and settings baked in.
9. Roadblock: Virus risks
The Chromebooks stay up-to-date and virus-free with no work on the part of the school. It simply comes with the cloud-based solution.
10. Roadblock: Devices made for consuming, not producing
In some districts, purchases of tablet devices seemed like the right choice at the time. Such devices make consuming information great, but they are not naturally positioned as machines for producing and creating work. What’s more, in a study reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael Hanley, director of Ball State’s Institute for Mobile Media Research, found that students tend to use tablets and smartphones for entertainment but prefer laptops for class projects and academic purposes.
11. Roadblock: Purchasing software and apps
Traditional laptops and tablets have software and apps that not only come with a hefty price tag but often pose purchasing and licensing difficulties for schools. This is not the case with Chromebooks. They come complete with word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, forms, and numerous education apps (e.g., solar system, typing tutor, human body, language learning) in a variety of curricular areas.
12. Roadblock: Lack of a robust wireless network
The only reason for not providing Chromebooks as the device all of your students need to succeed is a lack of a robust wireless network. With the money saved from incorporating these devices, however, that should be less of an issue. More importantly, if your school didn’t realize the importance of providing connectivity to students, you probably would not be reading this.
As someone who has encountered these roadblocks to technology integration, Intel-powered Chromebooks really hit a home run, gaining my full-throated support. Gone are the days of school tech translating into tech difficulties that get in the way of learning. These devices allow schools to put the technology in the background and productive work in the foreground. This technological development can pave the way for innovative educators to redefine learning for their students. Unlike any other platform on the market, this device serves as a seamless learning machine with powerful education apps available at your fingertips at no cost.
Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public school educator and administrator since 1997 and is the author of Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning and The Innovative Educator blog.